My Dream about Eternity

When the religious life became my way of life, I began having dreams.  They were strange and ethereal.  And I was convinced that a few were about the New Creation.  One vision has stayed with me:

I am standing in front of a giant cathedral, with spires stretching to the sky.  The iron-clad doors stand shut in front of me.  I am outside. I feel calm.  Then, as if it were just the right moment, the heavy wooden doors swing open.  I enter.  In the giant narthex, at least fifty choirs rehearse for some future performance.  Along with a throng of other new arrivals, I feel a sense of gratitude well up in my heart.  I continue on to what seems like the giant wall of a conference hall, still closed to all who had entered.  Then I see a ladder with a stream of people ascending up that expanse to some unforeseeable height.  The next thing I know, I am climbing.  We are climbing up, and up.  We reach the top.  There is a window.  It overlooks a cavernous atrium, filled with people and their flowing white robes.  I hear what sounds like a vast invisible orchestra.  It is then I notice that the window through which I am beholding this vision is a bifocal.  From the top portion I see the normal atrium.  When I stoop down to the bottom, the glass reveals a grand orchestra with instrumentalists scattered throughout the atrium.  Above: just the participants.  Below: a heavenly host.   As I explore in gentle amazement, the grand doors to the atrium open.  I scurry down to the ground again as the sunlight beams through.  We are let in, and the fresh air of the botanical gardens waft through the crowd.  Inside, I gravitate to a swimming pool surrounded by worshippers.  One person stands up on the diving board and, sharing praise to God, jumps in and splashes the congregants.  I have never been to a church like this before.  As dream fades to darkness, I realize I am somewhere in between worlds.  There I sense what John Witvliet may have meant:

Suppose in the fully embodied life we anticipate in heaven, we were to sign up for a “worship apprentice program” with opportunities to learn how to play gamelans and pipe organs, djembes and maracas, polyrhythmic drumming patterns, Bach chorale preludes, spirituals, work songs, and Anglican chant, to designing cathedrals and store front churches, to write hymn texts and improvise sermons, to craft processional crosses, and weave tapestries.  Our first millennium there is bound to fly by!”[1]

[1] John Witvliet, “Series Preface in Christian Worship Worldwide: Expanding Horizons and Deepening Practices (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Press, 2007), pp. xxi.